GUS POYET expects a far less frantic January than his first transfer window at the Sunderland helm 12 months ago.
The January sales formally open in the early hours of Saturday morning, with Sunderland concentrating on making one or two “quality” additions to the squad – one of which is likely to be a loan deal.
Sunderland have been linked with out-of-favour Chelsea winger Mohamed Salah, while the Black Cats are also keeping an open-mind on the Continental market.
However, head coach Poyet is far more relaxed with Sunderland’s January dealings than he was at the same stage last season, when the Black Cats were bidding to become only the second team in Premier League history to be bottom of the table at Christmas and still survive.
Sunderland brought in five new signings, with Poyet desperate for an injection of fresh blood after just two months at the helm.
Poyet told the Echo: “No doubt, it will be an easier January than last year.
“I think the approach this year is very, very smart, rather than: ‘I need this, I need this, I need this’.
“Last year, it was a little bit like that.
“This window is a little bit more relaxed, at least at the moment.
“We were desperate for a goalkeeper because Westy (Keiren Westwood) was injured.
“I wanted Liam (Bridcutt) because I knew what he could do.
“And then we started looking for a forward player and someone in the full-back position because we only had Andrea Dossena, who was injured at the time.”
Sunderland had mixed success with their signings last January, with Bridcutt and Santiago Vergini the only members of that quintet still at the club, albeit the Black Cats tried to land loanee Marcos Alonso on a permanent deal during the summer.
Argentine pair Oscar Ustari and Nacho Scocco both returned to their homeland with Newell’s Old Boys during the summer, with the latter proving a to be a major flop aafter his £4million move from Brazilian club Internacional.
But, with Sunderland in such a precarious position in the relegation dogfight, Poyet admits the club had to look towards players they had a connection with.
“It’s very difficult to attract players when you’re in that situation,” added the Uruguayan. “We had to look to people we knew.
“We had a bit of a relationship with Marcos, with the Spanish, and we wanted him the year before at Brighton when he went to Fiorentina.
“He was one of our targets because we knew Wayne Bridge (Brighton’s left-back) was probably retiring.
“I knew Liam, I knew Oscar from Argentina, and Nacho Scocco as well.
“Scocco is a great story about English football.
“Every team in South America wanted him. Watch YouTube and look at the reception he got when he went back to Newell’s
“But then he came here and it didn’t work for whatever reason. Sometimes, it just doesn’t work.
“Why? I don’t know.”